The East Singhbhum district has more toilets than the total number of below poverty line (BPL) families here. While this may please Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi — both championing the cause of building toilets to prevent open defecation — the matter calls for a thorough scrutiny.
“We’re looking into the matter. Earlier, only BPL families were beneficiaries under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan campaign. The central government recently restarted it after adding a few new categories like marginal farmers, scavengers, destitute women, women-headed families and disabled. We will send a proposal for accommodating the new ones,” East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Dr Amitabh Kaushal told HT.
Sources told HT that the Jamshedpur division of the drinking water and sanitation department (DWSD) had constructed 1,27,167 toilets against a target of 97,166 BPL households in 2008-09.
The district has 1,17,918 BPL families which also includes 58,000 Antyodyaya families as per a 2002-07 survey conducted by the Centre.
The fact surfaced when the district administration started the process of converging the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY).
“How this was possible without the approved Project Implementation Programme (PIP) for the same is a matter of investigation. But this has created a situation where the district has to plan and seek sanction for above poverty line (APL) families and the newly added five categories for convergence of the three schemes,” sources told HT.
There are an additional 63,900 BPL families in the district that has not approved of by the Centre as of now. A total of 75,363 BPL families are red card (ration card) holders while the number of APL families stands at 2,23,000.
“The excessive number of toilets was built as per the directive of then deputy commissioner (DC) Dr Nitin Madan Kulkarni in a bid to extend the benefit to Antyodyay families. Hence, at present the BPL beneficiary list in the district is nil and we’re seeking sanction for APL families and the new categories comprising marginal farmers, scavengers, destitute women, women-headed families and disabled,” Suresh Prasad, Jamshedpur DWSD executive engineer (EE), told HT.
According to sources, the district has sought a detailed verified list of beneficiaries from the blocks. “The administration is in the process of preparing a list of 9,984 prospective beneficiaries and seeking sanction for 2,000 beneficiaries so as to start work on the converged schemes in 2013-14 itself,” sources added.